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Conservation intern spots a giraffe during his wildlife survey in Kenya.

A Guide to Wildlife Conservation Internships Abroad

By Amelia McKinlay | 08th October, 2019

If exploring foreign landscapes and the animals that roam it sounds like a dream come true, then perhaps a career in wildlife conservation is for you. You’ll get to work outdoors and protect our wildlife while exploring places that most people only dream about.

To set yourself up for a successful career in wildlife conservation, participate in practical field studies through an internship. You’ll gather scientific research data that contribute to future conservation policies. These new skills will be hard to overlook on your CV when you start applying for any future job.

From conserving wildlife in the African savannah to assisting with animal rehabilitation in the Amazon Rainforest, we have a range of Marine and Wildlife Conservation Projects. To help you decide on the best internship for you, we’ve outlined the research potential in each of our projects.

A bird spotted by Conservation interns during a wildlife census in Nepal.

Nepal

Habitat: Himalayan Mountains

Research Fields: Mountain Ecology and Conservation

Set against the backdrop of dramatic mountain peaks, our Conservation internship programme in Nepal is a great way to add a unique experience to your CV while protecting the planet. In Nepal, you’ll live and work in the Annapurna Conservation Area, located in the heart of the Himalayan region. For a relatively small country, Nepal has some of the greatest diversity in climate, topography and wildlife in the world. Annapurna is an internationally celebrated trekking destination and forms part of a network of National Parks protecting the biodiversity of the Himalayan Mountains. 

In Nepal, you’ll work alongside conservation experts to enhance and preserve biodiversity in the area through scientific research and community engagement. During your environmental internship, you’ll learn about a range of research methods including remote sensory camera surveys, community interviews and scat analysis. Depending on the time of year, you’ll also participate in bird surveys, monitor butterflies and study reptiles and amphibians. Some of this research, most notably the amphibian surveys, will take place at night giving you an exclusive insight into what it means to work as a scientific researcher. With no active research being carried out in the area beside our own, the ongoing ecological surveys will provide a much-needed glimpse into the health of the ecosystem and its wildlife populations.

You’ll also participate in vegetation research during your Conservation internship programme in Nepal. This includes our rhododendron regeneration survey. This project aims to establish whether the Annapurna area is home to the largest Rhododendron in the world. There will be ample opportunity to learn about the botany of the region as you catalogue the plant species found in the Ghandruk region. This will enable you to learn about the value and use of plant species in the Himalayas.

If you’re an enthusiastic hiker with a passion for mountains and endemic species, Nepal is the perfect place to gain field experience and take part in an environmental conservation internship. 

Learn more about our Himalayan Mountain Conservation Project in Nepal.

Conservation intern assists with a bird census during her research project in Nepal.

Kenya

Habitat: African Savannah

Research Fields: African Savannah Biodiversity and Ecology 

Take your Conservation internship to Kenya and study endangered animals in the heart of the Great Rift Valley. In Kenya, you’ll be based at Soysambu Conservancy and will learn about preserving biodiversity through research and monitoring in the African Savannah. Soysambu Conservancy is home to numerous savannah species including the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe.

Over 70% of wildlife resources in Kenya occur outside of protected areas and, as a result, biodiversity is dwindling in the region. The aim of this project is to secure and improve the flora and fauna in the area through sound conservation management practices. As a volunteer, you’ll participate in numerous conservation activities including one to protect the endangered Rothschild giraffe. There are few places in the world to monitor and learn about these animals, giving you an unparalleled conservation experience. 

Additionally, you’ll participate in carnivore monitoring, mammal inventories and bird surveys around the reserve. By recording the movement and habits of these animals, you’ll gather valuable data that will formulate future conservation guidelines and management practices. When datasets are sufficient, reports will be peer-reviewed by experts with the aim of publication in scientific journals. 

During your stay, you’ll take part in other activities around the reserve including the removal of alien species, the maintenance of water-holes, fence building and road repairs. If you’re looking to pursue a career in wildlife conservation, learning these practical skills from experienced conservationists will provide you with an all-round understanding of wildlife reserve management.

With such a wide range of research and practical work to partake in, this wildlife conservation internship in Africa will ensure you gain a spectrum of scientific experience and an in-depth understanding of the African landscape.

Learn more about our African Savannah Conservation Project in Kenya.

Rothschild giraffes spotted by Conservation interns in the savannah during a wildlife census in Kenya.

Costa Rica

Habitat: Dry Tropical Forest

Research Fields: Dry Tropical Forest Ecology and Indigenous Plant Botany

With almost 25% of its land already protected, Costa Rica is leading the way as one of the greenest countries on Earth. Its biodiversity and tropical climate, rich fertile soil and long coastlines have allowed the development of many different ecosystems. Taking part in a Conservation internship in Costa Rica will set your CV apart from the rest. You’ll learn about solving global conservation issues in one of the most environmentally friendly countries on the planet. 

Logging, poaching and the misuse of resources has led to serious declines of many species making our conservation work all the more important. Your wildlife Conservation internship in Costa Rica will take you deep into bat caves and through the dense tropical forest. The main goal is to ensure wildlife flourishes and the forest remains an area of outstanding beauty.

In Costa Rica, you’ll be based in Barra Honda National Park, a dry tropical forest predominantly comprised of broad-leaved deciduous trees. The National Park is home to a large array of fauna, including bats, monkeys, iguanas and a diverse number of birds and butterflies. A large portion of your time in Costa Rica will be dedicated to conducting biodiversity surveys on these species. You’ll trek through the forest and gather data on the abundance and distribution of these animals. With this information, the park will be better equipped to develop effective conservation strategies. 

Indigenous tree identification and reforestation work will also form a significant part of the research you do in Costa Rica. The indigenous tree project involves collecting seeds from native species in order to create a seed bank and maintain a population of indigenous trees. The Barra Honda forest is at high risk of forest fires, making this seed bank a crucial future resource. 

If you are interested in a career in botany or zoology this nature Conservation internship in Costa Rica will give you access to practical experience in these areas lead by some of the top minds in conservation.

Learn more about our Tropical Dry Forest Conservation Project in Costa Rica.

Conservation interns work together to identify the butterfly species spotted in the Barra Honda National Park.

Botswana

Habitat: African Savannah

Research Fields: African Savannah Biodiversity and Elephant Ecology

Go on the ultimate bush adventure and live amongst wild elephants in Botswana. As a volunteer on this wildlife Conservation internship, you’ll work alongside leading conservationists to safeguard Botswana's diverse wildlife. You’ll be based in the Wild at Tuli Private Wildlife Reserve and will participate in hands-on conservation work. 

While at Wild at Tuli, you’ll take part in ecological surveys and censuses to assess the unique conservation value of the area. You’ll conduct bird and mammal surveys and collect information on their abundance and seasonal movement patterns. This data will be gathered through a number of methods including recording sightings from the car, from a hide or on foot.

One of the most exciting parts of your wildlife internship will involve tracking elephants through the bush to record their populations and social structures. You’ll learn how to track other species through a number of different methods including spoor identification and remote sensor cameras. Camera trapping is a method for capturing animals on film and used in conservation projects all around the world. Having exposure to these research methods will further your success in a future wildlife conservation job.

Baobabs are iconic tree species of the African bushveld. They are incredibly slow-growing and their distribution is very important to the health of the ecosystem. During your Conservation internship, you’ll work to ascertain the distribution of baobabs in the Tuli Block region and investigate the spatial relationship between elephant distribution, baobab trees and water sources.

Our project in Botswana is one of three wildlife Conservation internships in Africa that we offer. Given the large scope of research we conduct at Wild at Tuli, there will be limitless opportunities to learn about conservation work in Africa! 

Learn more about our African Bushveld Conservation Project in Botswana.

Conservation intern monitors a herd of elephants as they roam around a watering hole in Botswana.

Peru

Habitat: Amazon rainforest

Research Fields: Tropical Biodiversity and Wildlife Rehabilitation

As a wildlife Conservation intern in Peru, you’ll be based deep in the Amazon Rainforest at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve. Renowned for its serious hands-on conservation projects, the research conducted here has been published in scientific journals, featured in documentaries and presented at international conferences. If you’re looking to start a career in wildlife conservation, there is no better place to pursue a nature conservation internship.

The Amazon Rainforest is the most diverse ecosystem on the planet and is home to more species of birds, mammals, insects and plants than anywhere else in the world. Every year, new species are discovered, making Peru one of the most exciting destinations to carry out research.

Whether you’re a budding ornithologist, entomologist or just someone with a love for rainforests, our Conservation Project in Peru offers a multitude of research options. If you are specifically interested in work experience with animals, our animal rescue centre has a captive breeding programme that aims to repopulate the area with animals that have become locally extinct. As a volunteer, you’ll be involved in the study of captive animals and help record data essential for their eventual release.

Alternatively, you’ll carry out biodiversity research involving the study of birds, mammals, amphibians, bats and insects in the reserve. Through a combination of collection techniques, you’ll record information on the diversity and abundance of these animals. You’ll also have the opportunity to monitor the reserve and learn how to map trails and identify micro-habitats in the area. Learning how to map areas using GPS is a skill that will prove useful if you are planning to follow a career in wildlife conservation.

Rainforests are being cut down at alarming rates all over the world primarily due to logging and agricultural practices. Joining this Conservation internship programme will allow you to make a small contribution to a very important cause and learn about the breath-taking biodiversity the Amazon basin has to offer.

Learn more about our Amazon Rainforest Conservation Project in Peru.

Amazon Rainforest Conservation interns listen to a staff member as he takes them through the various wildlife in the rehabilitation centre in Peru.

Madagascar

Habitat: Tropical Rainforest

Research Fields: Tropical Forest Ecology and Lemur Biodiversity

Madagascar is home to a spectacular variety of flora and fauna, much of which is endemic and can be found nowhere else on Earth. The Andasibe National Park is found in the east of Madagascar and is comprised of lush green forests, spectacular tree ferns and over 117 species of birds. If you’re looking for a Conservation internship with a difference, our tropical forest project in Madagascar gives you a unique opportunity to learn about this diverse ecosystem. This will put you a step ahead in your conservation career. 

Ecological surveys and censuses form the foundation of the biodiversity research that occurs in Madagascar. Andasibe is an ornithologist’s paradise and bird surveys are regularly conducted in the forest. The survey compiles an accurate species list and gathers information on their distribution, abundance and seasonal movement patterns. Much of this research will take place on foot and any information gathered is recorded on a data sheet.

Lemur populations are starting to flourish once again in Andasibe as the forest has started to recover. As a volunteer, you’ll walk around the rainforest, recording any sightings of lemurs and observing the number of individuals as well as their species, sex and age. Researching lemurs in Madagascar is a bucket list environmental internship experience. It will definitely make your CV stand out when considering a future career in wildlife conservation.

The project in Madagascar also offers opportunities to learn about amphibians and reptiles, the diverse vegetation and reforestation, and rubbish removal. Much of the vegetation in Madagascar are endemic and collecting data on rare plants and endangered trees in addition to recording the spatial distribution of certain species will give you the opportunity to learn about rainforest botany.

Learn more about our Rainforest Conservation Project in Madagascar.

Conservation intern assists with the collection of bird data in Madagascar.

Land-based wildlife isn’t for everyone and the sea may be more your calling. With this in mind, we also have Marine Conservation internships for you to take a look at. You might find yourself studying sharks in Fiji or protecting the coral reefs in Thailand and Belize.

With all this in mind, where will you be headed?

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